Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • CORRESPONDENCE

French vote for river barriers defies biodiversity strategy

Europe’s rivers are disrupted by more than one million artificial barriers, including small dams, weirs and fords (see, for example, B. Belleti et al. Nature 588, 436–441; 2020). There is strong scientific evidence that such obstructions can harm both hydrological and ecological systems, yet the French parliament has voted to leave them in place (see go.nature.com/3ck9mxq).

By limiting the transfer of sediments and movement of organisms, these small barriers create a succession of reaches of warming, stagnant water that threatens freshwater biodiversity (M. R. Fuller et al. Ann. NY Acad. Sci. 1335, 31–51; 2015). Dismantling such small barriers is the most effective way to restore river connectivity and is now a worldwide objective (J. E. O’Connor et al. Science 348, 496–497; 2015).

The French parliament’s decision flies in the face of the EU Biodiversity Strategy. It also has no economic justification. Most small barriers cannot generate hydroelectricity and those that can contribute less than 1% to France’s electricity (see go.nature.com/2rphjch).

In our view, the fate of each barrier should be decided by balancing its ecological benefits and socioeconomic costs.

Nature 594, 26 (2021)

doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-021-01467-0

Competing Interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Subjects

Nature Careers

Jobs

Nature Briefing

An essential round-up of science news, opinion and analysis, delivered to your inbox every weekday.

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing

Search

Quick links